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How Much Screen Time is Too Much for Your Kids? A Curation

As a parent, you’re aware that screen exposure may be harmful to your child. But do you know how much screen time is too much for him or her?

In this article, we’ve curated facts from top case studies to answer that question, including the following:

  • How much screen time do children spend on average?
  • What activity dominates their screen time?
  • What device is used by most of them?
  • What benefits do they get from screen time?
  • What potential risks does too much of it cause them?
  • How can you as a parent limit your child’s screen time?

Let’s begin!

How Much Screen Time Do Children Spend on Average?

1) American children aged 0 to 8 years spend about 1.5 to 4.6 hours of daily screen time.

How Much Screen Time is Too Much for Your Kids? A Curation
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Sources: Albany and Time

  • 29% of American babies under the age of 1 watch television for about 90 minutes (1.5 hours).
  • 64% of American babies between ages 1 and 2 watch television for more than 2 hours.
  • American children between ages 2 and 5 spend 2.2 to 4.6 hours a day with screen media.
  • Children aged 7 to 8 years in New York spend only 1.5 hours a day on the screen because they’re busy with their school activities.

2) Children aged 8 to 12 years spend 4 to 9 hours of daily screen time.

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Sources: American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Time

  • Kids aged 8 to 12 years in the United States spend 4 to 6 hours of daily screen time.
  • Children aged 8 years and up in different countries consume 4.5 hours watching television and 7.5 hours using other screened devices for entertainment.
  • Children aged 10 years and up in different countries spend up to 9 hours a day in front of the screen.

3) Children’s daily screen time increased to more than 7 hours during the pandemic.

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Sources: Comparitech, Morgan Stanley, and Soocial 

  • From 3.8 hours a day before the pandemic, 12-year-old children in the United States doubled their nonschool-related screen time to 7.7 hours a day in May 2020.
  • From less than 1 hour a day during the early stage of the pandemic in 2019, majority of kids in different countries began spending 1 to 3 hours (or even more) of screen time to play games in 2020.

4) The pandemic also saw an increase in the number of children who spend 4 hours or more of daily screen time.

How Much Screen Time is Too Much for Your Kids? A Curation
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Sources: Elite Content Marketer and Morgan Stanley

  • From 13% before the pandemic, the percentage of children aged 0 to 4 years who spend more than 4 hours of daily screen time went up to 26% during the pandemic.
  • From 17% before the pandemic, the percentage of children aged 5 to 10 years who spend the same amount of daily screen time climbed up to 44% during the pandemic.
  • From 23% before the pandemic, the percentage of children aged 11 to 13 years, who spend the same amount of daily screen time, reached 47% during the pandemic.
  • From 20% before the pandemic, the percentage of children who stream videos for 4 hours a day or more spiked up to 40% in May 2020.

What Activity Dominates Children’s Screen Time?

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1) With a daily screen time of 4 to 9 hours, television watching dominates children’s activities.

Source: High Speed Internet

  • 39% to 53% of those hours are spent watching television.
  • 22% to 33% goes to gaming.
  • 11% to 24% is used for browsing websites and social media.
  • 6% to 9% is consumed on content creation, video chat, and e-reading.

2) On a weekly basis, television watching still dominates children’s screen time.

Source: Internet Matters 

  • 96% of them watch television for 15 hours.
  • 53% do various online activities for 8 hours.
  • 40% play games on a screen for 6 hours.
  • 48% watch YouTube videos for an unidentified amount of time.

What Device is Used by Most Children During Their Screen Time?

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1) Surveyed parents in the United States confirm that television is the device used by 74% of children aged 0 to 2 years.

Source: Pew Research Center 

Ranking next are the following:

  • 49% using smartphones
  • 35% using tablet computers
  • 12% using desktop or laptop computers
  • 9% using gaming devices

2) Television is also what 90% of children aged 3 to 4 years use.

Source: Pew Research Center 

Ranking next are the following:

  • 64% using tablet computers
  • 62% using smartphones
  • 25% using gaming devices
  • 21% using desktop or laptop computers

3) The case is similar to 93% of children aged 5 to 8 years.

Source: Pew Research Center

Ranking next are the following:

  • 81% using tablet computers
  • 59% using smartphones
  • 58% using gaming devices
  • 54% using desktop or laptop computers

4) The case is similar to 91% children aged 9 to 11 years as well.

Source: Pew Research Center

Ranking next are the following:

  • 78% using tablet computers
  • 73% using desktop or laptop computers
  • 68% using gaming devices
  • 67% use smartphones

What Benefits Do Children Get From Spending Time on Their Screened Devices?

1) Touchscreen devices enhance learning.

How Much Screen Time is Too Much for Your Kids? A Curation
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Sources: Internet Matters, New Scientist, OECD iLibrary, Pew Research Center, Raising Children, Secure List, and Very Well Mind 

  • 88% of the surveyed children in countries that are members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) agree that the Internet is a great source of information obtained through computers, mobile phones, and other screened devices.
  • 30% to 53% of early adolescents in the United States claim that they learn new things during their screen time as they browse the Internet, play games, and so on.
  • 29% of parents with children aged 0 to 4 years in the United States say their kids spend time on the screen to get information from the Internet. The case is similar to that of 78% of parents who have 5- to 11-year-old kids.
  • With 40% of children aged 8 years and younger in the United States owning tablets at home, Rosie Flewitt, a professor of Early Childhood Communication, concludes that touchscreens help children who struggle learning from books.
  • Over 1,000 parents with children aged 3 to 5 years, along with their teachers, support the idea that tablets promote learning. Children enjoy reading more if books are supplemented with touchscreen devices compared to doing it with just books.

2) They make online study and transactions possible.

How Much Screen Time is Too Much for Your Kids? A Curation
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Sources: Internet Matters, Pew Research Center, and Secure List 

  • 24.48% of the surveyed young students in Bangladesh used electronic devices to attend online classes during the pandemic.
  • According to 40% of the surveyed parents with children aged 11 years and below in the United States, kids spend time on the screen to do their homework.
  • 47% of children also use their screened devices to make online petitions.
  • They also do online shopping and other things related to e-commerce, making up 11.25% of their total Internet time, as reported by Kaspersky Safe Kids.

3) Screen time allows for communication and interaction through social media.

How Much Screen Time is Too Much for Your Kids? A Curation
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Sources: Internet Matters, OECD iLibrary, Pew Research Center, and Secure List

  • 84% to 85% of the surveyed US adults say their children use their screened devices to contact their parents when they are not with them.
  • 37% to 47% of early teens in the US use mobile phones to connect with their family members, friends, and other people.
  • 47% of children use their screened gadgets to support their friends by liking, sharing, and/or commenting on their posts.
  • 73% of the surveyed children in OECD countries engage in social networks daily.
  • 61% of them do online chat daily.
  • Using communication media makes up 24.16% of children’s total Internet time, as per Kaspersky Safe Kids alerts.

4) It provides some entertainment.

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Sources: Internet Matters, National Library of Medicine, Pew Research Center, and Secure List

  • 59% of the surveyed US adults say their children spend time on the screen for entertainment.
  • 34% to 57% of the surveyed early teens in the US use their mobile phones simply to pass time browsing the Internet, checking their social media, playing games, and so on.
  • Playing music, hearing jokes, and playing games are what children aged 0 to 4 years do during their screen time, according to 16% to 79% of the surveyed US parents.
  • The same is true for 5- to 11-year-old children, as per 34% to 83% of the surveyed parents.
  • Playing games consumes 15.98% of children’s total Internet time, according to a report by Kaspersky Safe Kids.

What Potential Risks Does Too Much Screen Time Have for Kids?

1) Screen time and exposure are responsible for some vision problems of children.

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Sources: Best Writing and Physician’s Weekly 

  • Surveyed parents claim that 49% of children’s vision and eye health problems have something to do with the amount of time these kids spend on screens daily.
  • 40% of those are determined by their distance from the screen.
  • 37% are caused by blue light from the screen.

2) With too much screen time, less than half of children maintain at least 60 minutes of daily physical activity.

How Much Screen Time is Too Much for Your Kids? A Curation
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Sources: National Library of Medicine and News Medical Life Sciences

  • Among 4- to 11-year-old American children surveyed, 65% spend time on screens while only 37% spend time on active play.
  • Among 6- to 11-year-old American children surveyed, less than 40% meet the ideal amount of physical activity and screen time.
  • Only 195 (19.5%) of 1,000 children maintain 60 minutes of daily physical activity.

3) With at least 1 hour of daily screen time but less physical activity, children aged 2 years and above are at risk of being overweight or obese.

How Much Screen Time is Too Much for Your Kids? A Curation
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Sources: News Medical Life Sciences and The Journalist’s Resource

  • Australian preschool children aged 2 to 6 years who spend more hours watching television and less time on physical activities have a significantly higher body mass index (BMI).
  • Children who spend 1 hour watching television a day are 50% more likely to become overweight than those who watch less.
  • Among children aged 6 years and above, those who spend more time on screens and less on physical activities are twice as likely to be overweight.
  • Among 3rd to 5th grade Iowa school children, those who are overweight and obese use significantly more screen time than those with normal weight.

4) More than 3 hours of screen time is linked to developing type 2 diabetes.

How Much Screen Time is Too Much for Your Kids? A Curation
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Sources: Meet Circle, National Library of Medicine, and Time

  • Compared to children who spend 1 hour or less of daily screen time, those who spend more than 3 hours are likely to show signs of insulin resistance, contributing to the development of type 2 diabetes.
  • 2- to 4-year-old children consume 167 more calories for every hour of television viewing a day.

5) Screen time is also associated with sleep disorder and deficiency among children aged 12 years and below.

How Much Screen Time is Too Much for Your Kids? A Curation
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Sources: The Journalist’s Resource and Time

  • For children under the age of 3, screen time is linked to irregular sleep patterns.
  • For those aged 6 to 12 years, screen time is otherwise linked to sleep disturbance.
  • 90% of the studies linking screen time and sleep difficulty among children attribute the problem to screen addiction that results in later bedtime and less time spent sleeping.

6) 1 to over 5 hours of screen time manifests behavioral problems among nearly half of children.

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Sources: Discover Magazine, Meet Circle, News Medical Life Sciences, Screen-free Parenting, SlickText, Tech Advisor, The Journalist’s Resource, and UNICEF

  • Children who watch television and play games on computers and mobile devices for more than 2 hours a day develop more behavioral problems (e.g. anxiety and depression) compared to those who do it for less than 20 minutes.
  • Among 1,000 children studied, 143 (14.3%) are diagnosed with or under evaluation for anxiety, 110 (11%) for depression, 160 (16%) for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and 116 (11.6%) for an unidentified behavioral problem.
  • Children aged 5 years and below who spend 2 or more hours of daily screen time are 8 times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD.
  • For every hour of daily screen time, children aged 3 years and below develop a 10% risk of attention problems when they enter school.
  • Children who spend 5 or more hours of daily screen time are 71% more likely to manifest suicide risk factors.
  • The same is true for 29% of those who use their devices for just 1 hour a day.
  • Among children who use screened devices for more than 5 hours a day, 48% report at least 1 suicide-related outcome.

7) At least 30 minutes of daily screen time develops risk of language acquisition and communication delays.

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Sources: Soocial and The Journalist’s Resource

  • For every 30 minutes spent watching television, children develop 50% higher risk of delay in language acquisition.
  • 6.6% of parents say that toddlers who use mobile devices daily are more likely to suffer from speech delay.
  • 30 minutes of increase in the daily use of mobile devices is associated with 2.3 times increased risk of speech delay.
  • The prevalence of other communication delays, such as the lack of use of gestures and eye gaze, is 8.8%.

8) Excessive screen time deprives children and early adolescents of social interaction.

How Much Screen Time is Too Much for Your Kids? A Curation
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Sources: Pew Research Center and SlickText

  • 11% to 43% of early teens say they often use their phones to avoid interacting with people physically, especially during the pandemic.
  • 33% of them spend more time chatting with their friends online.
  • 52% of them sit for long periods of time in silence even when they’re with their friends because they’re busy with their smartphones.

How Much Screen Time is Too Much for Kids?

1) None at all if they are 0 to 18 months (0 to 1.5 years) old

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Sources: All About Vision, Also, Screen Time Labs, and UNICEF

Infants and early toddlers should have no access to smartphones, tablets, televisions, and other screened devices. The visual demands from the screen cause stress on their visual systems.

Also, sensory stimulations are harmful for them because they can’t consciously react to them.

Lastly, they can’t fully understand that objects on the screen are not real.

But while there are some restrictions, important activities that use the screen, such as video chats with your baby when you are away, are an exemption to the rule.

2) A few minutes a day if they are 18 months (1.5 years) to 2 years old

How Much Screen Time is Too Much for Your Kids? A Curation
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Sources: All About Vision, Also, Screen Time Labs, and UNICEF

Even if they reach the age of 1 year and about 6 months, it is still best if toddlers don’t get exposed to the screen.

But child psychologists confirm that a few minutes of screen time won’t harm them that much as long as they are properly guided.

With this, it’s important to consider both the amount of screen time and the type of content you’re feeding your child with.

As such, it is advisable that you co-view with him. Never leave the device to him unattended. This keeps him from possibly mishandling or damaging the device and viewing content not suitable for him.

Speaking of possibly viewing content not suitable for him, it’s important to limit his viewing to quality educational programs such as alphabet and number games.

3) Up to 15 minutes a day if they are 2 to 4 years old

How Much Screen Time is Too Much for Your Kids? A Curation
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Sources: All About Vision, Also, Screen Time Labs, and UNICEF

The recommended amount of screen time for children aged 2 to 4 years is only 15 minutes a day.

With this, psychologists recommend that there should still be parental guidance. And the type of content for viewing should be limited to educational programs.

In addition, it is advisable that you let them watch on a larger device rather than a small one. A larger device reduces visual stress as it makes things more visible.

4) 30 minutes but not daily if they are 4 to 6 years old

How Much Screen Time is Too Much for Your Kids? A Curation
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Sources: All About Vision, Also, Screen Time Labs, and UNICEF

At ages 4 to 6, preschoolers can now listen to music, watch movies, and play simple games. With this, they can handle digital devices quite well.

As such, you can add 15 minutes more to what is advised for those aged 2 to 4. This sums up to 30 minutes of screen time but not on a daily basis.

Meanwhile, parental guidance is advised since they are still learning how to read and write well.

5) 1 hour a day if they are 6 to 10 years old

How Much Screen Time is Too Much for Your Kids? A Curation
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Sources: All About Vision, Also, Screen Time Labs, and UNICEF

For elementary school children aged 6 to 10 years, experts recommend 1 hour of free screen time a day.

Free screen time? Yes. We’re talking about screen time spent for recreation, not for school-related activities.

With this free screen time, however, parental guidance is still advised for kids to maintain healthy viewing, as in the case of preschoolers.

Having mentioned healthy viewing, Heroes: The Bible Trivia Game is a good source of education and entertainment. Kids learn facts about the Bible characters in a fun quiz fashion.

6) 90 minutes (1.5 hours) a day if they are 10 to 12 years old

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Sources: All About Vision, Also, Screen Time Labs, and UNICEF

For children aged 10 to 12 years, experts recommend just adding 30 minutes more to the recommended 60 minutes for kids below this age range. This sums up to a screen time of 1.5 hours a day or 10.5 hours a week.

Since kids in this age range are on the verge of puberty, they begin exploring things on their own.

Hence, stricter parental guidance is advised to make sure they view only what is suitable for them and follow the recommended amount of screen time.

7) 2 hours a day (14 hours a week) if they are 12 years old and above

How Much Screen Time is Too Much for Your Kids? A Curation
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Sources: All About Vision, Also, Screen Time Labs, and UNICEF

At age 12 years and above, kids are now physically mature to handle the screen.

They can spend more than 1 but not exceeding 2 hours of screen time a day. This makes 14 hours a week.

But since adolescents are naturally curious and explorative, parents have to be even more present in guiding them on what they should view.

There should just be room for some freedom as long as the consequences won’t harm them as they transition into adulthood.

As a Parent, What Can You Do to Limit Your Child’s Screen Time?

1) Create a screen time schedule.

How Much Screen Time is Too Much for Your Kids? A Curation
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Sources: American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Best Writing, Kids Health, and National Library of Medicine

Considering your child’s age, maturity, and behavior, and based on the guidelines we discussed earlier, decide how much screen time you’re giving him daily or weekly.

Then, find a vacant time of the day when this screen engagement won’t conflict with important activities of the day such as mealtime and bedtime.

Based on this, create a daily screen time schedule for implementation.

2) Be with your child, monitoring his screen activities and the amount of time spent.

How Much Screen Time is Too Much for Your Kids? A Curation
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Source: National Library of Medicine

Be present and engaged when your child is on the screen. Co-view and interact with them.

By doing so, you can check the content he is viewing and monitor the amount of time he consumes. Plus, it strengthens your parent-child bond.

But what if you are busy with office work, house chores, and other things?

Well, going back to the recommended amount of daily screen time per age that we discussed earlier, 2 hours is the longest one.

That isn’t much, is it?

3) Put away or turn off all screened devices when necessary.

How Much Screen Time is Too Much for Your Kids? A Curation
Photo credit: Canva

Sources: American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Kids Health, National Library of Medicine, and PR Newswire 

Mealtime is an important family gathering. It is a good opportunity to catch up on each other’s life updates while enjoying your food.

As such, gadgets should have no place to disturb your quality time. So, set them aside for a while.

The same is true for bedtime. It is a time for the body to rest from all day’s work and regain strength for the next day.

More especially, the eyes need a break from electromagnetic radiation, which can interfere with your sleep.

Hence, all screened devices must be shut down during this time of rest. And as experts advise, keep them 2 to 3 feet away from your body, especially the head.

4) Encourage your child to engage in activities that don’t involve the screen.

How Much Screen Time is Too Much for Your Kids? A Curation
Photo credit: Canva

Sources: American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Kids Health, National Library of Medicine, and Online Degrees

Not all learning and entertainment should come from the screen.

Kids should also enjoy reading books, singing, playing instruments, dancing, playing sports, doing arts, or other offscreen hobbies.

These activities give your child a break from nonphysical confinement, encouraging them to be physically active, explorative, and creative.

5) Be a good example.

How Much Screen Time is Too Much for Your Kids? A Curation
Photo credit: Canva

Source: American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

It’s not enough that you just set rules for your child to follow.

No matter how systematic, effective, and realistic your screen time plan is, and how well you implement it, it is nothing if you yourself don’t live by it.

Your child follows what you do more than what you say. So, be a good role model.

Let’s Wrap It All Up!

1) On average, children spend 1.5 to 9 hours of screen time a day and up to 18.6 hours a week based on these statistics:

  • American children aged 0 to 8 years spend about 1.5 to 4.6 hours of daily screen time.
  • Children aged 8 to 12 years spend 4 to 9 hours of daily screen time.
  • Children’s daily screen time increased to more than 7 hours during the pandemic.
  • The pandemic also saw an increase in the number of children who spend 4 hours or more of daily screen time.

2) Television viewing dominates children’s screen time given these facts:

  • Out of a daily screen time of 4 to 9 hours, television watching dominates children’s activities.
  • On a weekly basis, television watching still dominates children’s screen time.

3) Television is the device used by most children during their screen time, as proven by the following:

  • Surveyed parents in the United States confirm that television is the device used by most children aged 0 to 2 years.
  • Television is also what most children aged 3 to 4 years use.
  • The case is similar to that of most children aged 5 to 8 years.
  • The case is similar to that of most children aged 9 to 11 years as well.

4) Screen time benefits children in these ways:

  • It enhances learning.
  • It makes online study and transactions possible.
  • It allows for communication and interaction through social media.
  • It provides some entertainment.

5) Unfortunately, too much screen time poses the following potential risks:

  • Vision problems
  • Inactivity
  • Overweight and obesity
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Sleep disorder and deficiency
  • Behavioral problems
  • Language acquisition and communication delays
  • Social deprivation

6) The recommended screen time for kids should be:

  • None at all if they are 0 to 18 months (0 to 1.5 years) old
  • A few minutes a day if they are 18 months (1.5 years) to 2 years old
  • Up to 15 minutes a day if they are 2 to 4 years old
  • 30 minutes but not daily if they are 4 to 6 years old
  • 1 hour a day if they are 6 to 10 years old
  • 90 minutes (1.5 hours) a day if they are 10 to 12 years old
  • 2 hours a day (14 hours a week) if they are 12 years old and above

7) To effectively limit your child’s screen time:

  • Create a screen time schedule.
  • Be with him to monitor his screen activities and time spent.
  • Put away or shut down all screened devices when necessary.
  • Encourage your child to engage in activities that don’t involve the screen.
  • Be a good role model.

Let Us Hear From You!

Is your child spending too much time on the screen?

What have you learned from this article that can possibly help manage that problem?

Share it with us in the comments below.

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